Christmas, a time for family and children, but spare a thought for those women who have to go through the holidays dealing with infertility. Most couples take it for granted their ability to have a child. In a study conducted by the NHS 25% of couples struggle to have children. Christmas is commonly known as a holiday celebrating a special birth, by a virgin nonetheless. Understandably it is a painful reminder for those couples without children as the holiday itself is centred around families and children. So spare a thought for those without children, don’t be tempted to ask the usual questions, “why haven’t you had a child yet” or “are you having problems” – no couple wants to hear that.

Facts about Fertility

  • One in 80 children born in Britain are conceived because of IVF.
  • One in six couples try infertility treatment.
  • Denmark has the highest proportion of test-tube babies in Europe – 2.6 per cent of all live births (it is 1.2 per cent in the UK).
  • IVF can produce high rates of multiple births because up to three embryos can be implanted in the uterus. 27 % of all IVF births produce two or more babies, compared to 1.4 per cent of all babies conceived naturally.
  • 47% of individual babies born because of IVF came from a multiple pregnancy.
  • Infertility is most commonly caused by problems with ovulation (the monthly release of an egg). Some problems stop women releasing eggs at all, and some cause an egg to be released during some cycles, but not others.

Ovulation problems can occur due to conditions, such as:

polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a condition that makes it more difficult for your ovaries to produce an egg

thyroid problems – both an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) and an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can prevent ovulation

premature ovarian failure – where a woman’s ovaries stop working before she is 40

Womb and fallopian tubes The fallopian tubes are the tubes along which an egg travels from the ovary to the womb. The egg is fertilised as it travels down the fallopian tubes. When it reaches the womb, it is implanted into the womb’s lining, where it continues to grow. If the womb or the fallopian tubes are damaged, or stop working, it may be difficult to conceive naturally.

Scarring from surgeryPelvic surgery can sometimes cause damage and scarring to the fallopian tubes.Cervical surgery can also sometimes cause scarring, or shorten the cervix (the neck of the womb).

Cervical mucus defectWhen you are ovulating, mucus in your cervix becomes thinner so that sperm can swim through it more easily. If there is a problem with your mucus, it can make it harder to conceive.

FibroidsFibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumours that grow in, or around, the womb. Fibroids develop in the muscle beneath the inner lining of the womb wall and grow into the middle of the womb. Submucosal fibroids can reduce fertility, although exactly how they do this is not yet known. It is possible that a fibroid may prevent an embryo from implanting itself into your womb.

EndometriosisEndometriosis is a condition where small pieces of the womb lining, known as the endometrium, start growing in other places, such as the ovaries. This can cause infertility because the new growths form adhesions (sticky areas of tissue) or cysts (fluid-filled sacs) that can block or distort the pelvis. These make it difficult for an egg to be released and become implanted into the womb.

Pelvic inflammatory diseasePelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the upper female genital tract, which includes the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries. It is often the result of a sexually transmitted infection (STI). PID can damage and scar the fallopian tubes, making it virtually impossible for an egg to travel down into the womb.

 As always, if you are struggling and need somebody to talk to Cysters are always here to offer support. Whatever  you are going through, you are beautiful and you are still a woman!

Love Neelam XX

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